AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 16a

April 18, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
What He Didn't Know About His Life
Insurance Cost His Family $500,000

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AVflash! Naps Nab Headlines back to top 
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Controller Nabbed Napping In Miami: Schedule Changes Coming

A controller at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) was suspended Saturday for falling asleep on the midnight shift. The FAA said in a statement there were no missed calls or any disruption to control services. There were 12 controllers and two supervisors on duty at the time. Another controller noticed the sleeping controller and turned him in. The incident came hours after the midshift crew at the ARTCC was "given a briefing on professionalism and the importance of reporting to work fit for duty," according to a news release posted on the agency's Web site. Meanwhile, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt says the agency is putting a stop to scheduling practices it says contribute to controller fatigue.

The main change is a requirement that there be a minimum of nine hours between shifts for controllers, which should derail scheduling arrangements that some controllers reportedly used to get more time off in a row. The Washington Post reported last week that some controllers manipulate the schedules for a mix of shifts, including two graveyards, that results in them having a three-day weekend. Babbitt and NATCA President Paul Rinaldi will start a tour of ATC facilities nationwide on Monday in what is billed a Call to Action. "The goal of the Call to Action is to reinforce the need for all air traffic personnel to adhere to the highest professional standards," the agency statement said.

Related Content:

Krakowski Resigns Over Sleeping Controllers

The head of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization has resigned amid the growing controversy over sleeping air traffic controllers. Hank Krakowski, who assumed the post in 2007 after 30 years with United Airlines, quit Thursday morning after meeting with FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. Krakowski didn't have anything to say about his resignation but Babbitt did, and essentially laid the issue in Krakowski's lap. "The last few weeks we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety," Babbitt said, in a prepared statement. "This conduct must stop immediately. I am committed to maintaining the highest level of public confidence and that begins with strong leadership."

The person now in charge of making sure controllers don't fall asleep on the job is Chief Counsel David Grizzle, who will hold the job until a more permanent replacement for Krakowski is found. A sleeping air traffic control supervisor caused two flights arriving at Reagan National Airport in Washington to self-announce their approaches and landings in March and since then there have been revelations of other cases of snoozing controllers, which prompted a directive from the agency to require two on-duty controllers on the midnight shift at all 24-hour towers.

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Flights That Didn't Go As Expected back to top 

Navy Releases Video Of F/A-18C Landing Fire

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The Navy has released video of the April 11 one-engine landing made by an F/A-18C aboard the USS Carl Vinson and during which the aircraft caught fire. The aircraft had undergone maintenance and was performing touch-and-go's when one engine caught fire and was shut down in flight. Immediately after landing, the aircraft's aft fuselage was engulfed in flames. Flight deck fire crews responded and the fire was extinguished with aqueous film forming foam. The Hornet was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113 and its pilot escaped the episode uninjured. Crash and Salvage leading chief, Petty Officer Benjamin Bilyeu, said in a military news release, "You can drill day-in and day-out but when the event happens, to actually see the training being as effective as it was, that was incredible and made me proud to be a sailor on the Vinson."

The Vinson has been involved in operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, as deployed with the U.S. 5th Fleet. This event, in which no personnel were injured, separates itself in that aspect from a March 30 engine explosion that involved another F/A-18C. That episode occurred on the deck of the USS John C. Stennis as the jet was preparing for takeoff. The aircraft in that case was assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101. A total of 10 sailors received injuries in the March 30 explosion. Four of them were hospitalized.

Crew Refused Diversion For Heart Patient: Paper

A British report alleges a Singapore Airlines crew refused to divert a flight from Singapore to London for a critically ill passenger. The Daily Mail , quoting unnamed sources, says BBC Radio journalist Max Pearson suffered a heart attack shortly after the flight took off from Singapore but the crew refused requests to land so he could get medical attention. The paper says a doctor onboard tended to Pearson for the 14-hour flight. Pearson was taken to hospital on arrival at Heathrow and underwent emergency surgery. He is now recovering at home but the sources say his heart has been permanently damaged. The airline has not commented.

Pearson, a well-known radio reporter in Britain, was returning from Japan where he had been covering the earthquake and tsunami. He declined comment to the Daily Mail. "I don't want to talk about it yet. It's a very delicate situation," he told the newspaper. The sources say he is considering legal action against the airline.

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News Briefs back to top 

GA Airports Coalition Forms

The General Aviation Airport Coalition (GAAC) has now officially formed as a national organization to "preserve and promote our nation's general aviation airports." In a press release, the GAAC said it believes existing advocacy groups are "excellent" but general aviation airports "need eyes and ears on the ground to exclusively look out for policies that impact our airports." It aims to create strength and solidarity among smaller airports and protect them from the potentially damaging influence of outside interests, including federal agencies. It's is up and running online at GAAirportCoalition.org, meets monthly via teleconference and online, and is actively seeking new members.

Referencing the TSA, GAAC interim chair Richard Lewis said in a press release, "GA airports need to work together to create a strong, unified voice to prevent the federal government from forcing us to do things we cannot afford to do." Lewis is director of Concord Regional Airport in North Carolina. Among the group's initial priorities are "developing a list of federal priorities that it will promote" and organizing resources to assist airport operators with their day-to-day operations.

TSA Skips Hearing On Pilot IDs

The TSA declined an invitation to participate Thursday in a House hearing to discuss how to improve pilot certificates -- the same certificates that the TSA does not currently accept as valid identification. The TSA was asked by Congress in 2004 to work with the FAA and other agencies to create biometric ID cards for pilots that would serve as secure identification cards and flight certificates. So far, the agencies have failed to come together with a plan. They have instead pursued more limited independent approaches and have not yet implemented a universal solution. Frustrated House Transportation Committee Chairman, John Mica, has reportedly threatened to subpoena TSA Administrator John Pistole "to get some responsiveness" from the agency. The TSA told NextGov.com that it doesn't have oversight of the FAA and "reached out to Chairman Mica to explain its reasons for declining the invitation" to attend the hearing. The FAA, which did attend, offered its own explanations for its slow progress on the matter.

At the hearing, FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Security Peggy Gilligan said that, unlike the TSA, the FAA does not have the expertise or infrastructure needed to collect or store biometric information. And because the TSA has worked on its own program with the Air Line Pilots Association, the FAA was concerned it might end up duplicating those efforts. But the TSA's program targets commercial pilots, would use airline identification cards and employee identification numbers and offers less than the all-encompassing solution Congress is seeking. Meanwhile, as of this month, all pilots should have the new laminated pilot certificates that incorporate designs and holograms intended to make them harder to counterfeit. But those certificates still do not include biometric data. The FAA's latest efforts may come closer to answering that call, but it will take more time.

In 2010, the FAA proposed a rule that would require pilots to submit a digital picture, or receive their certificate in person from a processing station. The comment period for that rule ended in February and the rule itself has not yet been finalized. When it is, and if it follows the proposed rule, it will be phased in over a five-year period. In plain English, that means the call set out by Congress in 2004, as a reaction to the events of September 11, 2001, will be answered by the FAA in roughly 2016.

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Friedrichshafen Finale a Financial Success back to top 

Trade-Oriented Aero Called Successful

Organizers of Aero Friedrichshafen say a shift in focus to a trade show attracted business-oriented attendees and benefited exhibitors. The show wrapped up Saturday in the German city and the final tally shows that 33,400 people from 40 countries attended. There were 630 exhibitors in 11 halls. The show eliminated the airshow and shifted the dates to mostly weekdays (Wednesday-Saturday) to attract a more focused clientele. "Exhibitors widely reported making valuable contacts with many new customers from around the globe, as well as being greatly relieved that the level of interest from trade visitors at the exhibition exceeded all expectations," show organizers said in a news release.

GA in Europe tends to be focused on smaller aircraft in the LSA and ultralight categories and the event has become a showcase for the growing electric airplane segment. "Our new UL Taurus E, which is powered by an electric motor, was a major focus of attention for visitors," Vid Plevink, head of development for Pipistrel, is quoted by show organizers as saying. "The tendency toward electric drive systems in aircraft is clearly on the rise." More traditional offerings were also successful at the show. Cirrus sold at least one of its $725,000 tenth-anniversary edition SR22s and Hawker Beechcraft sold some King Airs. Next year's Aero is April 18-21, 2012.

New Four-Seater From Flight Design

Flight Design unveiled its four-seat, all-composite, strutless high-wing aircraft, the C4, at the AERO 2011 in Germany this week. The design can run behind either a 180-hp IO-360, burning 10.4 gallons per hour in cruise, or a 155-hp single-lever-operated Centurion 2.0 turbocharged diesel that sips just shy of six, according to Flight Design. The C4 is 1320 pounds empty with a maximum takeoff weight listed at 2640 pounds. A whole-airplane emergency parachute system is standard equipment. Max cruise is listed at 160 knots and cruise behind the diesel is good for 145 knots and 1700 nm, according Flight Design. The company says its application for EASA certification was filed in Q1 2011.

The C4's avionics package may include the Garmin G1000, Dynon SkyView suite, autopilot, traffic and terrain, plus weather depiction, but hasn't been formally finalized. Each seat will have a three-point belt with optional AMSAFE seatbelt airbags. Flight Designs expects to win FAA certification by reciprocity of EASA certification. First deliveries are expected in 2013. The price should land somewhere in the vicinity of $320,000, based on the company's target of 220,000 Euro, but other variables may apply.

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News Briefs back to top 

Nine-Year-Old To Solo Balloon

A nine-year-old New Mexico boy is preparing to become the youngest ever to solo a hot air balloon. Bobby Bradley, son of renowned balloonists Troy and Tami Bradley, of Albuquerque, will fly a balloon classified as an ultralight, and therefore has no minimum age requirement for solo flight. The Bradleys insist this is all Bobby's idea and they wouldn't let him fly if they didn't think he was ready. "Like I tell everyone, it's not rocket science," Troy Bradley told The Associated Press. "You heat the air. You let the balloon go up. You let it cool and come down. It's learning to do it with some precision, and that's the amazing thing, he has such a great feel for it. He's got the ability so why not allow him to do it?" Bobby is equally confident in his ability.

He told the AP he's been flying for five years and has accumulated about 25 hours of dual with his father in a standard balloon. "I've been flying since I was 4, so I've had a lot of time to train and I've always wanted to solo," he said. The family is building the special lightweight balloon and gondola he'll fly. It will have a 32,000-cubic-foot envelope. Bobby will fly it tethered to get the feel of it before doing his solo flight.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: More Money = Less Snooze?

Only the U.S. government could, in response to a labor situation in which the job is so boring and low-key that workers can't stay awake to do it, double the workforce. In a post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli predicts how this will affect ATC: This time next year, we'll be running a story about two controllers who fell asleep in a tower.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: So, Why Can't Controllers Take Sleep Breaks?

The services work their people hard, especially the Navy when doing flight ops. On a shipboard visit some years ago, Paul Bertorelli found that exhausted sailors could take sleep breaks. In this post to the AVweb Insider blog he asks, "Why not controllers?"

Read more and join the conversation.

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVmail: April 18, 2011

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: More Equal

About five years ago, I was returning to Van Nuys from Fresno in my Hawker Hunter after doing an Air Show there. After departing Fresno, I requested FL250, and Oakland Center replied by clearing me to FL230, which I acknowledged. But in my head I was still thinking FL250 and went right through 23,000 and leveled at 25,000.

Oakland Center never said a word, nor did Los Angeles Center when I contacted them, requesting a descent into Van Nuys. Just as I was walking to my car, after putting the Hunter away, I got that magic message from someone in the office. "Hey, George, they want you to call ... ." Well, I ended up taking a 30-day suspension rather than fight the FAA since I didn't fly for a living, and it was no big deal.

Now consider the recent story about Sen. James Inhofe — and keep in mind that nothing has been done about it and no action was ever taken against him.

My clear conclusion, as was written by George Orwell in his classic work Animal Farm, [is that] "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

So, did I get it right?

George Lazik

Sleep Sagas

Regarding the "Question of the Week": I have never fallen asleep on the job, but I have been awakened by the snoring of the captain and flight engineer of the DC-8 I was the First Officer aboard.

Don Nafe

As a retired heavy jet air cargo captain, it was my cockpit policy to allow a crewmwmber experiencing a "sinker" a 30-minute nap during the en route/cruise phase of the flight, while insisting that the other two crewmembers had a fresh cup of hot coffee in hand with instructions to talk to each other. I would much rather have a wide-awake crew on a minimums CAT III approach than a drowsy one. Crew resource management! It doesn't take three people to monitor the autopilot and answer the radio.

Name withheld

When I was a control tower operator at Patrick AFB, Florida in the early 1950s, the night-time traffic was so light that the tower operator was allowed to sleep on the midnight to 0700 shift. We would increase the volume of the radios (speakers were used at that time) to awaken us if someone called the tower. Never had a problem with this set-up.

Dudley Johnston

This is another example of unions and bloated bureaucracy. Now we have 27 additional highly paid federal employees to provide pensions and medical care for! Just send out a memo: You nod off, you're fired. Next thing we know, there will be two controllers sleeping, so we have to add two more employees, etc., etc. It never stops with this federal government and unions!

Chuck Perry

This has to be one of the stupidest QOTWs I've seen. Given that there's no choice for respondents who haven't fallen asleep on the job (or won't admit to it), the only information it will produce is an unofficial categorization of jobs held by employees who acknowledge snoozing at work.

Lance Fisher

AVweb Replies:

You were free to not respond. We were interested in those who had fallen asleep. And all of our surveys are unofficial.

In 1960, [I was in] my second year in ATC and the only tower controller on midnight at CYYC (Calgary).

I just did a short shift change, days to midnights, and had a Trans Canada Airlines Super Constellation scheduled arrival at 3am. I had a 20-minute wait from my last departure, so I left the runway and approach lights on. It was dark and quiet, other than the slightly audible hiss from the multiple external speakers, which monitored all frequencies before use of headsets. I was out.

When I came to, everything was exactly as I left it, other than there was a Super Constellation on the terminal ramp that wasn't there earlier. Apparently, the TCU changed the Connie flight to my frequency at 60 miles, as it was VFR. The crew called and couldn't raise me so returned to TCU frequency. The Connie stayed on TCU, landed and taxied to the gate.

Neither the crew nor TCU reported it, or I would have been looking for another job. I tried all of my 27-year ATC career to get two controllers on a midnight, but to no avail.

My biggest "one on a midnight" complaint was we didn't have time between flights on a midnight shift to leave the tower to go down one floor to the washroom. So on a midnight, some of us used the escape hatch in the lower wall of the tower, stood on the cat-walk and faced downwind. It only took a third the time of going to the washroom.

If one had diarrhea before a midshift and was too late to phone in sick for a relief, you'd bring a plastic garbage bag, then line it in a waste-paper basket because the aircraft don't stop coming or going. Many of us had to use this alternative.

Welcome to the real world in ATC.

Jim Hall

Traffic Travails

I just finished reading the opposing sides of the Sun 'n Fun parking disaster on April 1. Indeed, I think the real truth of this problem lies somewhere in the middle between the sides published in Monday's AVweb newsletter.

I arrived in the show area about 8am and took 1.5 hours to get the last half mile into the parking lot. The problem was not lack of gates, slow drivers, or storm damage. It was mud.

The show manager did his best to convince the world in the preceding 12 hours that all was well and the show recovered nicely from the tornado damage, but that was not the case. The result was the horror in the parking lot. The show did go on, but it was hampered by a shortage of people at the show [who were] instead waiting to get a parking space. Even after I got a space, I had to walk a mile through the mud to get to the main (and only) gate. After another mile walk through the mud when I left the show, I decided to return home to Washington State a day early instead of visiting the show Saturday.

If the show manager had just told the truth instead of trying to fool everyone so they would go to the show on Friday, I would have played poker on Friday and enjoyed the show on Saturday. Instead, I payed the penalty fee to change my airline reservations and had a horrible day both Friday and Saturday.

It is true that the storm impact ruined my trip to the show. It stopped the auction I was attending while trying to buy an airplane. It destroyed the pool table-flat parking lot and turned a few square miles of sandy grass into mud. (Who knew you could turn sand to mud?) We should all have remembered that Friday was April Fool's Day.

Paul Mulwitz

After seeing Wood's SNF video, hearing his narration and reading the reply from John Burton, it seems that the tornado and accompanying heavy rain only made a bad situation worse. 2011 was my first and likely last year attending SNF. I had to get in to make panel purchase decisions related to a new aircraft I am building. So while the four-hour wait was extreme, I accomplished my goals. Hearing Steve Wood describe his experiences with many more years in attendance, I can see a history that leaves much to be desired. For example, after waiting four hours after arriving at 9am, I had to wait an additional 20 minutes in line with everyone else to get my online ticket converted into a wristband.

As a contributing editor for an aviation publication, I find myself at dozens of international aviation events annually. I usually have the benefit of media parking and can bypass ticket lines. However, I was at SNF 2011 as a member of the ticket-buying public. So to wait in line for a ticket after waiting in gridlock for four hours was a lot to ask, especially given the trickle of people getting in compared to what John Burton would make me believe was normal. If attendance at SNF is decreasing, I can see one reason why.

Michael Gallagher

Sun 'n Fun was a disaster. I was there for the tornado and stupidly went back Friday. I waited in line for four hours to enter the parking lot, where traffic direction left a lot to be desired.

Cars were driving eastbound in the westbound lanes to cut in line with nary a police officer in sight because they were all standing at the entrance laughing and joking.

The half-mile walk to the gate was in knee-deep mud where you were then permitted to stand in line for an hour to buy a full-price ticket.

Once inside, the Porta-Potties were simply stood up after being blown over, with no attempt to clean them.

The most aggravating part was Sun 'n Fun Radio saying what a great job everyone did to clean up.

Mr. Burton, you should have been ashamed to continue to charge $5 for parking and $35 for entry after such a mess. Either shut down the event for the day and clean up, or, for once, show some fiscal compassion and allow free entry. You would still be able to gouge us with $7 sandwiches and $3 bottles of water.

Don't know if I'll return again.

Vince Minnillo

Mr. Burton doesn't have it right. I attended SNF on Saturday, and the traffic and parking situation was not good and was as bad as I've ever seen in many years of attendance.

Originally intending to attend on Friday, I delayed a day knowing everything would be in a state of disrepair. Arriving on Saturday late morning (with a civilian I wanted to introduce to aviation), we encountered heavy southbound slow-moving traffic well to the north on County Line Road. We solved that by heading south and doubling back. Once on Pipkin, the traffic stopped, and I could have walked to the single open gate faster. Once in, the parking lot was a muddy mess. Major areas were not usable — but I don't hold Burton responsible for that. We parked way out to enable quick egress and walked in. The road was so muddy that it was tough for folks to walk. I saw women with baby buggies having them carried through mud bogs. I didn't see any gravel around. Finally, the gates were all clogged with folks trying to get in. We lucked out and found a SNF volunteer (I hope?) walking around with bracelets.

Once inside the actual grounds, damaged airplanes and other debris were all cleaned up. Maybe that's what Burton referred to? It sure as heck wasn't either the parking lot or the traffic beyond. When we left, I saw cars parked more than a mile from the grounds on Pipkin Road.

My friend commented that the traffic flow and control were not acceptable, and we didn't appreciate the muddy parking lot with no gravel for a walkway. A single line of gravel all the way through would have been very helpful.

Used to be, one of the pluses for SNF was free parking. Now they have their hand out for $5, but the parking situation has not improved. The final insult came at the end of a hot afternoon when I found that a cold small glass of beer had risen to $6. Gimme a break!

Contrast this story with that of Oshkosh 2010. EAA did an admirable job of pumping water, laying in dirt and gravel and otherwise handling a much larger crowd. SNF just doesn't measure up.

SNF 2012 won't be on this pilot's list of air shows to attend next year.

Larry Stencel

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: Practicing Slam-Dunk Approaches with 'IFR' Magazine

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Eventually, every instrument pilot gets a slam-dunk approach. IFR magazine's Jeff Van West explains how to practice for the slam to remove the guesswork and even add the high-speed technique to your instrument flying toolbox.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Atlantic Aviation (Philadelphia International Airport, KPHL)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Atlantic Aviation at Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL). Terry Carlson recently visited the FBO and shared his experience:

I visited KPHL for a business meeting in the City of Brotherly Love. I flew in ... with some reservations, since my Bonanza A-36 was no match for the serious jet traffic into and out of the city. But it was a joy, starting with approach control through ground control. All [were] professional and treated my Bonanza as though we were the Airbus landing on the parallel runway. [T]he real surprise was at Atlantic Aviation. While it was not cheap, the service was exceptional. Stephanie and Mary Ann arranged a conference room for us and treated us as though we just arrived on an empty Gulfstream [and were] buying a full load of fuel. Rental car was arranged, and when I had to leave early because of an emergency, they had my plane fueled and ready right up front. While it is not inexpensive, I will definitely come back to Atlantic Aviation at KPHL.

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

The Franklins: How You Can Help back to top 

ICAS Foundation's Kyle & Amanda Franklin Fund

Kyle & Amanda Franklin Fund || Click to Donate via the ICAS Foundation

The aviation community is coming together to help Kyle and Amanda Franklin get back on their feet and eventually back in the air after their mishap at Air Fiesta at the Brownsville/South Padre Island Airport. If you'd like to contribute, click on the banner at right to visit the ICAS Foundation web site.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

There used to be a controller at my home base of Shoreham, SE UK who had the kind of plummy voice that you might expect of a Victorian actor. One day there were two non-radio Cubs in the busy circuit. After giving my take-off clearance, he asked, "Now, where are my pride of cubs?"

Bob Gilchrist
via e-mail

Heard Anything Funny on the Radio?

Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke.

Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West
Mariano Rosales

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

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